ULI JON ROTH: Seeing JIMI HENDRIX Perform Was A 'Mind-Blowing' Experience

April 9, 2024

In a new interview with the Mike Nelson Show, legendary German guitarist Uli Jon Roth was asked why he picked up the guitar and not some other instrument. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I had to. It was destiny. I was surrounded by music at a certain age. My neighbor friend had a band, and I used to drive around with them and I wanted to be part of it. And the music just drew me in. I started being a BEATLES fan before I played. And then, yeah, once I got in contact with with real instruments, that was it. I started playing the guitar and then it was like an instant-attraction thing. It was very easy for me to learn it. And after a few months, I already had my first gig on stage. I remember that. And it was almost like learning it as if I'd already known it. That's what it felt like. And back then we didn't have any tutors, no YouTube; you had to figure it out all by yourself. Meaning, I listened to longplay records. That's what we used to do with turntables. I listened to, how does Eric Clapton play this? And I played along with the record after I came home from school, driving the neighbors crazy."

Asked how important Jimi Hendrix was in his playing, Uli said: "That came slightly later. I didn't start with Jimi Hendrix. I first started with the blues, BLUESBREAKERS, Eric Clapton, CREAM. Jimi Hendrix was a little bit later, and then, yeah, he was my main influence for so many years. I learned everything from him — the rhythm playing, I used to really get into that because I was enthralled and fascinated by his musical message there. I always felt there was so much more to his playing than just guitar playing. That's the thing that attracted me the most. And that's what I didn't hear with the other players. Most of the other players were playing just cool music, but with Hendrix there was always like a cosmic element. And when I saw him play when I was a kid, I just turned 14 or whatever — I don't quite remember — January '69, I saw him play in concert in Hamburg, and it was mind-blowing, quite literally. The sound was like from hyperspace. The guitar sounded like some superhuman being from space. Those sounds were completely new back then. Nobody sounded like that. No other guitar player sounded like that. And I soaked that up, and I wanted that sound. I can still remember it."

In recent years, Roth has revisited the early music of his period with the SCORPIONS, which resulted in the "Scorpions Revisited" double CD and "Tokyo Tapes Revisited" DVD/Blu-ray releases.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest guitar players ever, Uli pioneered a unique style of guitar playing which — for the first time — combined complete mastery of the instrument with an intensely melodic and emotional appeal.

From his earliest days onwards, Uli has always been a bold and uncompromising musical innovator of the first order. Being the first guitar player in rock to incorporate complex melodic arpeggio sequences, Uli Jon Roth — in the eyes of many of his peers — practically reinvented modern guitar technique almost singlehandedly during his SCORPIONS tenure, but even more so during his ELECTRIC SUN days.

Roth kicked off his spring 2024 North American tour on April 2 in Mesa, Arizona.

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